is a Decision!
Have you ever thought about success, and what it is exactly?
I’m sure you have because you have wonderful creative dreams and things you want to do!
So, part of your definition might include being able to do all those beautiful things.
And that’s how it is. We generally define success as something we achieve, something we get, a milestone or even a physical place. In other words, it’s a somewhat physical or tangible achievement.
But what if I told you that Success is a Decision?
Well, yes. Let’s take a look.
One definition of success is “a favorable outcome of attempts or the accomplishment of one’s goals.” We all know that once we’ve accomplished something we generally say we had success. A cake turned out delicious and we call it a success. We finish a painting, and we might call it a success. But do we ever call ourselves a success for having done it?
For many creatives, this is the hard part. We might “get things done” but even then, we sometimes don’t really feel successful! This is where imposter syndrome pops up and stops the party.
Have you ever done that? Have you had someone say they liked something you did, but you still didn’t feel successful?
And so it is with creative minds . . . We are our own harshest critic!
Here’s where I want to bring up this idea that success is a decision.
This phrase is from Elliott Connie, a speaker at the virtual three-day conference I attended several weeks ago. Elliott is an author and psychotherapist, and founder of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Training.
But let’s look at how this relates to our creative lives!
For the most part, there is truth to the Webster’s version of the definition, but I’d like to expand on it. Here’s where the decision comes into play. Success isn’t just the end point. It can be found in the journey, or process, as well.
The first decision you must make is what success looks like for you. This is an individual thing. There are as many right answers as there are people. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. There’s no one answer that’s right for everyone. We all have a different idea of what success looks like or how we measure it.
Next, can you see and accept that there are multiple successes wrapped inside any journey or project? Which parts of your creative process might contain a success? Even if things don’t work out as planned, are there some things you discovered or learned? Were there parts of the project that were completed successfully along the path?
And what about those less measurable parts of success? Did you find success in being consistent, persistent, and patient with your craft? Success isn’t always a final landing point. Decide which parts of your process can be labeled successful and then apply that label to yourself.
Here’s another choice to make. If the project was a “failure” by outside standards (or by the Webster’s definition of success), does learning count? In my book it does! Remember one of my favorite quotes about how I don’t fail – I either win or I learn? Consider Einstein’s 10,000 failed attempts to invent the lightbulb. All the time spent on something that didn’t go as planned can feel like a waste of time. Notice I said “feel” like a waste of time, but it wasn’t. You learned a lot in the process and your next attempt will be better.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to find success in what you do:
- Did I solve a problem or fill in a gap?
- Did I help someone or contribute to something?
- Is what I did a little better than my last attempt? Did I improve a little?
- Was I more efficient or in flow?
- Have I been more consistent in my practice?
- Did I improve my process or feel inspired?
- Am I proud of my attempts?
- Did I have fun?
- Did I create things? Did I like doing it?
- Did I overcome a fear or bad habit?
If you answered “Yes” to any one of these, decide that you can name it a small success. Success can look different at different times. And once you succeed at one thing, you can focus on another. You can also aim toward success in multiple ways at once.
With that said, I do want to circle back to the original Webster’s version of success, meaning those tangible measures like money, goals, and things.
Here’s why: These are rarely talked about positively in connection with creativity. We don’t usually put the two ideas together. In fact, it’s much more likely that when you think of being a “creative” person, you imagine the non-materialistic artist type—someone who enjoys the creative process, creates art or music, and doesn’t really care much about recognition, money, or other “worldly” successes.
You’ve heard me say it before and I still believe in the “Both/And” world. There’s no reason why your creativity can’t contribute to your family/career/financial success if that’s what you want. It’s your choice. You get to decide.
So, here’s the last part of the “Success is a Decision” discussion.
It actually does come down to deciding what you will do, how much time you will devote to it, and if you’ll show up to the work. It comes down to the decisions you make every day to honor your craft.
Decide to be a successful creative. Decide that you can be a successful creative who can achieve success in all areas including the tangible aspects. And finally, decide how you will define your own success. It’s your choice.
I define mine as any forward progress I am making no matter how small. I measure mine daily in my habits log and my journal. Make the decision to celebrate your wins no matter how small.
How do you define success? Drop in the comments and let me know. Tell me how you decide to be successful, what that means to you, and how you’ll measure your wins…no matter how small.
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